Zama radicalised during his stay in Republic of Palau
Alleged Hizbul Mujahideen operative, Qamar-uz-Zama, was radicalised by Muslim extremist groups during his stay in Republic of Palau, an island country near the Philippines between 2008 and 2012, said UP Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) officials.
On September 13, he was arrested by the ATS from a rented house in Kanpur where he was staying with the aim of doing reccee of a temple with the intent of carrying out a ‘fidayeen’ attack during Ganesh Chaturthi.
Asim Arun, IG, ATS said Zama was a liberal Muslim who even celebrated Hindu festivals and observed Navratri fast every season until he left his native place in Assam’s Hojai district for Republic of Palau in 2008. However, Zama turned a hardliner when he returned to Assam in 2013 and was more inclined towards ‘Wahabi’ preaching, he said.
“After his return to Assam, Zama visited Kashmir along with a friend Omar Farooq and kept visiting the Valley regularly on the pretext of selling clothes, till he joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in June 2017,” said Arun. After Zama was nabbed in Kanpur, Farooq and six other people were also arrested in Assam on a tip-off by UP ATS.
The IG said Zama worked as a store keeper at a warehouse in Republic of Palau and started attending ‘jamaat’ organised by religious preachers’ groups from Indonesia and Australia.
During interrogation, Zama stated he did not accept that he was radicalised but said he became religious after learning about his religion while attending ‘jamaat’ in Republic of Palau.
Arun said Zama and Farooq got inclined towards ‘jihad’ (religious war) and met Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Jehangir Saroori and another top militant Riyaz Ahmad alias Hazari to join the terror outfit.
The duo underwent rigorous training in the jungles of Kishtwad, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for nine months. Qamar also visited Bangladesh to meet his cousin there in March, 2018 at the behest of Saroori, said the IG.